Did Emilia Clarke's Real-Life Health Struggles Inspire Her To Sign On For Last Christmas?

Emilia Clarke in Last Christmas
(Image credit: (Universal))

In the weeks leading up to the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones, the HBO fantasy series' Mother of Dragons Emilia Clarke shared some serious health issues that she’d been dealing with shortly after first playing the famed role. Now the actress moves forward with her career with the upcoming rom-com Last Christmas alongside Crazy Rich AsiansHenry Golding, and this movie has some commonalities with her own history.

The holiday movie named after the memorable George Michael tune follows Emilia Clarke’s character of Kate, who is unhappy and a bit down on her luck when she meets Henry Golding’s charming Tom. As revealed in the trailer for the film, Kate has had serious bouts with her health in the past as well. How much did this aspect of the film factor into Clarke’s decision to sign on to the project? Here’s what she says:

I wouldn't say it was the defining thing that brought me to [the movie]. Dame Emma Thompson probably was that. But it definitely allowed me to bring quite a lot of truth to what Kate's struggles were, because for Kate she had her health crisis in her early 20s, and that's when I had mine too. And that time for any young person is incredibly intimidating.

Emma Thompson, of course! If that’s not reason enough to join a project, I don’t know what is. The Love Actually actress co-wrote Last Christmas with her husband Greg Wise and stars in the film as Emilia Clarke’s hilarious Yugoslavian mother. Per Clarke's comments to NPR, Kate’s backstory may not have been the main reason for her interest, but it certainly informed her performance – since it hits so close to home. All around, this seems like the kind of role that was specially crafted just for the actress following almost a decade on Game of Thrones.

Back in March, Emilia Clarke penned a piece for The New Yorker where she divulged details of her multiple life-threatening brain aneurysms and surgeries that popped up shortly after starting her role as Daenerys in 2011 – when she was 24 years old. The actress dealt with undescribable pain and explained that she really thought she was going to die in a few instances, amidst massive press tours and filming Game of Thrones.

After years of health struggles, she announced she is now at 100 percent and has helped develop a charity called SameYou, which aims to provide treatment for those recovering from brain injuries and strokes. Aside from the connections to health issues, Last Christmas looks like it will allow Clarke to dabble in comedy and romance, and she will even shows off her vocal chops by singing! She also gets to work some incredible talent, including Crazy Rich Asians' Michelle Yeoh, along with Golding and Thompson.

Last Christmas heads to theaters this weekend, November 8 along with other exciting new releases including Doctor Sleep and Midway.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.